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Description of the church

Fót church was built by Count Stephen Károlyi of Nagykároly (born 1797, died 1881) lord of the manor of Fót, descendent of the very ancient family of Kaplony, to the memory of his late wife née Countess Frances Eszterházy (died 1844) as well as to procure a burial place to the Fót-branch of his family.

The plans of the church were drawn up by Nicholas Ybl one of the best Hungarian architects, and took ten years to build (1845/1855). It is of the roman style in the romantic fashion of the XIXth century which liked to use moresque and arabic ornaments. The church is composed of two churches built one upon the other. The superior one, an antique-christian basilica with three naves is used as parish-church, the inferior as a burial place to the defunct members of the count Károlyi family. It was consecrated in 1855 in honor of the holy Virgin’s immaculate conception.

There are four towers at the four corners of the edifice. The two towers at the principal entrance are taller than the others (45 metres) and between them at the top of the principal face there is a bronze statue of the Immaculate Holy Virgin (height 5 metres, weight 18 hundred kilos), work of the Viennese sculptor Fernkorn. Over the principal entry there is relief by Joseph Gasser, representing the homage of the three Wise Men in Bethlehem.

The church has three naves. The middle one has a beautiful soffit, with richly painted and gilded beams, a masterpiece of Gibler. On the walls of this nave, over the arcades, we can see the half-length portraits of the Apostles, which, as all the other frescoes and altarpieces of this church were done by the eminent professor of painting at the Painting-Academy of Venise: Charles Blaas.

On the right of the main entrance in the little chapel we find the most precious treasure from a religious point of view: the great relic (reliquia major) of saint Lucentius martyr, presented to the church by His Holiness the Pope Pius IX in 1855, and brought over from the catacombs of Rome by the Hungarian Cardinal Prince Primate of that time John Scitovszky.

Leaving the chapel of saint Lucentius and advancing in the right nave, we get to the privileged altar of saint Frances of Rome, patroness of the late countess. Tradition says that the countenances of the persons represented on the altar-piece are those of Count Stephan Károlyi, founder of the church, and his family. The altarpiece in the left nave represents Knight saint George fighting the dragon.

Near the right pillar separating the nave from the sanctuary there is the pulpit, carved in wood with the little statues of our Saviour and the four great Fathers of the Church. Standing beside the pulpit, which is the work of artists of Rome, we get a good view of the large organ on the choir. This organ has been built by the excellent organ builder of Salzburg Levis Moser. The world-renowned Francis Liszt has played upon it several times in the Fót church.

Stairs with eight steps of Carrara marble lead from the middle-nave up to the sanctuary. The walls in the sanctuary are covered with frescoes by Blaas. The altarpiece of the high-altar represents the Immaculate Conception. The floor of the sanctuary is paved with white, black and red marble-slabs and its design deserves our special attention.

The large door on the left side of the sanctuary leads down into the crypt. Half way down there is an entrance formed like a triumphal arch, and attached thereto is the escutcheon in relief of the Károlyi family and further below a marble slab with the inscription: „Non habemus hic manentem civitatem, sed futuram inquirimus.” We have no perpetual home here but seek for that is to come. The crypt has just the same extension as the upper church. Beneath the sanctuary there is the crypt-chapel and beneath the naves there are the places for the coffins with recesses right and left. In the crypt-chapel there is a black marble altar and a white Carrara marble statue of Jesus resurrected standing on it. This statue is the work of the Italian sculptor Pietro Tenerani. A very precious Florentine mosaic work of marble and half-precious stones adorns the side of the altar. (Gaëtano Bianchini fece Firenze 1846.) A statue of the Angel of Resurrection larger that life size, stands on a pedestrial of black marble opposite the altar, to its right the statue of count Stephan Károlyi’s daughter, Countess Elisabeth, who died in the prime of life, represented as one of the Wise Virgins of the New-Testament. These two Carrara-marble statues are also the work of Pietro Tenerani. In the nave of the crypt are placed the coffins of Count Stephen Károlyi and those of the members of his family as well as those of all the other members of the Károlyi family who have died since then.

Cím: 2151, Fót, Vörösmarty utca 2.

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